Inducted into Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, 1985

Ezra Melrose played varsity football at Trinity College in Hartford, graduating in 1935. In 1938 he earned an MA from NYU. From 1942-45 he served in the U.S. Army Air Force, attaining the rank of captain.

A noted educator, Melrose served the Hartford Public Schools for 36 years, as a math and science teacher, a guidance counselor and later vice principal and principal at Weaver High School, and principal of Bulkeley High School. He was president of the Jewish Community Center, member of the boards of Congregation Beth Israel, the Jewish Historical Society and the Midrasha. Even after suffering a devastating stroke, he spent time tutoring children who needed special attention and teaching English to Russian immigrants in the Jewish Family Service’s ESL program.

As a teacher and school leader, he was an ardent supporter of school athletics, and was remembered as one of the most enthusiastic fans in the stands. “Many a spectator noted Zeke’s special brand of enthusiasm, his spontaneous and vocal response to his team’s successes, his deep dismay at errors and losses.” When he learned that some student athletes lacked energy due to lack of nutrition, he helped raise funds to make sure that they had enough and even mixed quarts of vitamin and protein-enriched drinks to bolster the athletes’ diet. One friend remembered in 1972, “Zeke rode the bus, played every play of every game, lived every moment of the contest and was as bone weary and exhausted as the star quarterback at the end of the game.”

Melrose also advocated for women’s sports. For several years he was the only male member of a committee organized by female physical education teachers in Connecticut who sought varsity status for female sports (the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Commission’s Girls’ Athletic Committee). He worked hard to develop programs which later grew rapidly.

“Long before women’s’ lib I was the chairman of what was called the Girls’ Athletic Committee, and the state organization. I fought for years to put the girls’ athletics on the par with boys’ athletics […] We’d meet once a month with a fixed agenda and then go back to the state organization, kept pressuring them to give the girls a break in athletics.”

Oral history